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Re: poke

Have no doubt that the poke is performing exactly as you have described, and I would certainly never plant the stuff, but unlike kudzu, which has no natural controls here, poke must have had something that kept it in check, or the first European immigrants to this country would have had to hack through a jungle of the stuff. Of course to really answer this question would probably require finding someone crazy (or desperate) enough to do a dissertation on the botany and paleobotany of poke. (What family does it belong to, anyway?)

On Monday, January 13, 2003, at 02:06 AM, Marge Talt wrote:
Well, Cathy, it may not have taken over the entire eastern US, but
that's not from lack of trying.  My neighbors have a berm with a
fence on top of it so they can't see what is growing on it (and don't
care)...it is about 70' long and completely covered in poke of
majestic proportions.

I go up there every year and cut it down - do not have the time to
try to dig it up - in the vain hopes that it won't spread more seed.
My property at the bottom of that berm turned into a total sea of
poke seedlings when I cleared for my deer fence...seed that must have
been lying there, waiting for some light for years and years.

Deer will nibble on the younger leaves, but don't really keep the
plants in check.  I've never seen any insect damage (more's the pity)
and don't know of anything that eats it nor have I seen disease
problems.  It prefers sun but will grow in deep shade, albeit not
very lustily...but it grows and flowers and sets seed on plants only
a foot or two tall.

It can be a big pest in agricultural land, I have read.  It would
have to be a pretty potent herbicide to knock down a mature plant -
as I said, the roots get huge and go down many feet.  In one season,
from seed, it can develop a root as big around as your thumb and over
6" deep...

Marge Talt, zone 7 Maryland
Editor:  Gardening in Shade
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